The decision has been made to discontinue the Lufkin Virtual Learning Academy (LVLA) for the upcoming semester with the exception of high school seniors. The Academy was created as an alternative for families who chose not to attend face-to-face learning. All students at Lufkin ISD, with the exception of virtual high school seniors, will return to on-campus instruction on January 6, 2021. A student or an individual in his/her household who has a high-risk medical condition, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may request a medical exemption. For a student to receive virtual instruction, a parent/guardian will submit a medical exemption form from a physician, along with a consent/request form from the parent/guardian. These forms may be picked up at all campuses and are due back to the campus by 4:00 on December 4, 2020. LVLA high school seniors may continue their online instruction for the second semester if they are passing at the end of the first semester.
“It is with much contemplation that the Lufkin ISD Administration determined that it is time for students to return to the classroom unless they are medically fragile or live with someone who is medically fragile. Our research indicates that attendance and grades are low among our virtual learners. Our teachers and staff did a great job making available the LVLA option, but it was never intended to be a permanent solution,” said Lynn Torres, Superintendent of Lufkin ISD.
Individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are those individuals with certain underlying health conditions as designated by the CDC which provides as follows: those with conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, compromised immune systems (including from smoking, cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, or use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications), diabetes, serious heart disease (including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and hypertension), chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, liver disease, or severe obesity.
“Local physicians are not seeing the spread between students in schools rather from social and family settings. We are hearing from the medical community that they recommend that students are in school, not only to help academically, but with social and emotional needs,” said Torres.
For students meeting one of the underlying CDC health conditions, once a parent/guardian consent form and the physician’s medical exemption form are received by the campus, and nurse verification is confirmed, a campus committee will convene to review what is best for the individual student. Both the parent consent form and the medical exemption form can be obtained at all campuses and are due by 4:00 p.m. on December 4, 2020.
“This decision is made with the best interests of our students, staff and community in mind. With our protocols in place along with proper cleaning and disinfecting, we feel confident that school is the best place for our students to be,” Torres said.